When I first looked through the Chaos Space Marine codex and saw the Havoc Squad entry I was quite surprised at how cheap the squads and weapons are. I’m going to run down a few different combinations and their effectiveness in 6th Edition.
5 Man Squad with 4 Autocannons – 115pts
This is the configuration that has been most popular since the codex was released. At 115 points it is an absolute bargain for 8 Strength 7 shots that hit on 3’s. Great for killing light armour and even effective against zooming light armoured flyers. Take an aegis with a quad gun and you’re throwing out a lot of shots from this squad. I used two of these squads in my first draft of my Typhus list. They had a mixed effectiveness in my games. I mainly play against power armour and this is one area they fall short due to the AP4. Their strength 7 also means they cannot hurt armour value 14 on vehicles and AV13 requires a 6 just to glance. The problem I faced was once they destroyed the rhinos/razorbacks (which are becoming more uncommon) they were almost useless. Despite the number of shots they put out they were finding their shots either saved or failing to cause glancing hits. If you play against a lot of power armoured armies I suggest the next loud out.
5 Man Squad with 2 Autocannons, 2 Lascannons – 135pts
20 points for a Lascannon is pretty good value in my opinion but you need more than one. I always find with single shot weapons I usually miss and if I have two I usually hit with one or both of them. When you only have power armour and terminator armour to deal with those extra Str9 AP2 shots will come in handy. If I compare two squads of these to two all autocannon squads against a unit of terminators the mathhammer works out like so: 16 Autocannon shots are likely to cause 11 hits, 9 wounds of which 1 or 2 will be failed. 8 Autocannon shots and 4 lascannon shots will cause 6 hits from the autocannons and 3 from the lascannons. It’s very likely you’d kill 2 terminators from the lascannons and another one from the autocannons. Not a huge jump but against armour 13 you’re likely to at least glance with two lascannon shots whereas the full autocannon load roughly get 2 glances from all 16 shots if you’re lucky. Give one of these squads an aegis with a quad gun and you pretty much make up for the replaced autocannons with the extra firepower from the lascannons and skyfire. The reason why when taking two squads I choose to still mix these and not have 4 of each type in a squad is due to spreading out the damage of both guns. It would be very easy for your opponent to deploy his heavy armour away from the lascannon squad etc. so mixing them allows you spread out the lascannon and autocannon shots.
5 Man Squad with 4 Flakk Missiles – 175pts
A little bit of an expensive option and not one that I suggest. It’s 100points for the 4 missile launchers with flakk but for the same points cost you could have an aegis with a quad gun. The 4 missile launcher squad without flakk still works pretty well in an all comers list. At just 135 points it’s a pretty cheap and deadly option. This load out needs no explaining as we saw it everywhere in 5th edition.
5 Man Squad with 4 special weapons – 95pts – 135pts
What I like about Chaos Space Marine armies is the ability to take special weapons (Flamers, Meltaguns and Plasmaguns) instead of heavy weapons. To get this to work you really need Huron or Ahriman who grant D3 units infiltrate. Without that ability it would be very hard to get these guys in close and transports struggle to survive long enough these days. Plasmaguns seem to be the weapon of choice in 6th and although your odds of rolling ‘gets hot’ are higher with more shots it can be worth it if you face a lot of terminator heavy lists. In 5th I used to prefer Chosen squads to do this with their outflank ability but since they lost that Havocs are better with this style of load out due to their cheapness. You could also throw in a combi weapon for the champion for cheapness.
Other Upgrades and Uses
One weakness of Havocs is their lack of fearless which you could give them by attaching a character or an Icon of Vengeance to the unit. I see Havocs as a cheap disposable unit so don’t recommend it. The best way for me to increase their survivability is to put them in cover or take an aegis defense line. The mark of Nurgle on a 5 man squad is only 15 points which is pretty good for the improved toughness and will make you even more survivable against small arms fire. You should be able to get a good couple of turns of shooting from a couple of squads at least and they could distract your opponents firepower from more valuable units. The Chaos Codex has plenty of other vehicle and heavy armour killing units so try to include them and don’t just rely on Havocs.
I haven’t mentioned Heavy Bolters. I don’t feel they have a place at all. If you want lots of AP4 then go for Autocannons and if you want to kill hordes they missile launchers frag missile will do the job nicely. Both of which also have higher strength options for taking out vehicles.
So there’s my thoughts on Chaos Havocs. Would be interesting to know what you guys think and how you arm yours.